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Very dry air to start October

Very dry air to start October

The first two days of October were dominated by a warm and dry air mass. How dry was it? Well afternoon relative humidity fell off into the teens and twenties on both October 1st and 2nd, with very low dewpoints (in the 20s and 30s F). Some extremely low afternoon relative humidity values included 12 percent at St James, 17 percent at Luverne, 18 percent at Tracy, and 19 percent at Fairmont. Such low values of relative humidity are somewhat common in October, especially in dry years and after the state crop acreage has matured and dried out. The first week of October in 2011 brought similar values of relative humidity with many readings in the teens, and back in October of 1999 places like Faribault and Litchfield reported relative humidity of just 7 and 8 percent, respectively.

Combined with gusty winds the dry weather produced some rather high evaporation rates for this time of year, ranging from 0.2 to 0.3 inches per day.

Wet period starts

Following the dry start to the month, thunderstorms roared across portions of the state later in the day on October 2nd and into October 3rd, bringing hail to southwestern Minnesota (1.75 inch diameter size near Worthington), and heavy rains to parts of south-central and southeastern Minnesota. Some observers reported new daily rainfall records, including 0.90 inches at MSP airport on the 2nd. Those reporting new daily record rainfall amounts for October 3rd included: 2.76 inches at Pine Island; 2.45 inches at Zumbro Falls; 1.79 inches at North Mankato; 1.45 inches at Gaylord; 1.40 inches at the University of Minnesota St Paul Campus; 1.39 inches at Worthington; and 1.32 inches at Faribault. You can read more about the rainfall from this storm and see maps of the distribution on our web site.

 The rains were very welcome, especially in areas of the state where drought had taken hold. In fact, the overall areas of the state landscape designated to be in moderate to severe drought shrunk by over six percent over the past week. Yet more rainfall is expected around the state through Sunday of this weekend, and further out the National Weather Service expects a wetter than normal weather pattern over the state through October 17th.

Climate Change Adaptation Conference at the Science Museum on November 7, 2013

Several organizations are partnering to host the first statewide conference on Climate Change Adaptation, Planning and Practice. It will take place at the Science Museum of Minnesota in downtown St Paul on November 7, 2013. Registration for the all day program is only $60. Sessions will be devoted to city planning, agriculture, transportation, natural resources (including watershed management), and public health.

Weekly Weather potpourri

News from the MN Senate Environment and Energy Committee: Help us kick off a statewide conversation on Minnesota's energy future! On Tuesday, October 22, in the Science Museum Auditorium, the Minnesota Department of Commerce is sponsoring a day-long workshop to kick-off a statewide discussion on how Minnesota can transition to a fossil fuel-free economy. The findings from the workshop will be used to inform a study to map-out the path to a sustainable energy system in Minnesota. What do you think should be considered as we create a plan to build a new energy future? Participation is free, and you can have an impact just by your presence (demonstrating interest from sustainable energy advocates.) Technical expertise is not required but your creativity and strategic thinking are welcomed! The day will start with some interesting presentations by Rocky Mountain Institute, followed by group discussion and Q&A. Register here.

Typhoon Fitow was churning across the East China Sea in the Western Pacific Ocean this week heading towards the China mainland by this weekend. Winds were over 100 mph, producing 30 to 40 foot seas waves, and heavy bands of rainfall that were expected to drench parts of Taiwan before moving onto the China coast. With landfall in China Typhoon Fitow is expected to rapidly weaken. And Tropical Storm Danas is moving in behind Typhoon Fitow and is expected to take a track towards southern Japan next week.

In the Gulf of Mexico, the NOAA Hurricane Center is tracking Tropical Storm Karen (the 11th named storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season). Karen may reach hurricane strength this weekend before making landfall along the MS, AL, FL coastlines Saturday night. Some coastal areas of those states may expect to see total rainfall amounts of 3 to 6 inches through Sunday, causing local flooding.

According to the BBC, Wednesday, October 2nd brought a very rare tornado to County Galway in western Ireland. The storm was somewhat short-lived but it knocked down a number of trees and damaged the Clonfert Cathedral, producing hail and heavy rainfall across the county as well.

National Weather Service offices reported this week that a strong storm off the Pacific Ocean brought heavy rain to the state of Washington, and some snowfall to parts of Idaho and Montana. Some parts of Montana reported 6 inches or more of snowfall. The strong low pressure system caused the NWS to issue a blizzard warning for western SD and the Rapid City area for Friday through early Saturday, and early Friday morning observers in western SD were already reporting snowfall amounts of 2 to 6 inches.

MPR listener question

With all of this rain expected I was wondering what is the daily record and monthly record rainfall for the Twin Cities during the month of October?

Answer: Actually the daily record rainfall in the Twin Cities for October occurred on today's date, the 4th, in 2005 with 4.61 inches. That's also the one and only time in the Twin Cities climate record (1871-present) that it has rained over 3 inches in one day during October. The wettest month of October in the Twin Cities record occurred in 1911 when a total of 6.42 inches was measured. October of 1911 also brought some snowfall to the Twin Cities area.

Twin Cities Almanac for October 4th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 65 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 45 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for October 4th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 89 degrees F in 1922; lowest daily maximum temperature of 41 degrees F in 1885; lowest daily minimum temperature is 24 degrees F in 1935; highest daily minimum temperature of 68 F in 1922; and record precipitation of 4.61 inches in 2005; and a trace of snow fell on this date in 1935.

Average dew point for October 4th is 42 degrees F, with a maximum of 69 degrees F in 2005 and a minimum of 13 degrees F in 1952.

All-time state records for October 4th

The state record high temperature for this date is 94 degrees F at Albert Lea (Freeborn County), Amboy (Blue Earth County), and Theilman (Wabasha County) in 1997. The state record low temperature for this date is 10 degrees F at Ada (Norman County) in 1935 and at Argyle (Marshall County) in 1989. State record precipitation for this date is 4.25 inches at Farmington (Dakota County) in 1900; and state record snowfall for this date is 1.5 inches at Ashby (Grant County) in 1903.

Past Weather Features:

Perhaps the wettest start to October historically occurred in 1900 when daily thunderstorms over the 2nd through the 6th brought heavy amounts of rainfall to many parts of the state. Many observers reported a total of 2 to 4 inches of rain over that 5-day period. A few places like Wabasha and Farmington received over 5 inches. Fortunately most crops had already been harvested that year.

October 4, 1903 brought snow to many northern Minnesota communities, including Moorhead and Bemidji. It was the only snowfall that occurred that month.

October 4, 1935 was one of the coldest in state history. Many places started out that day in the teens F and warmed up little during the day. It was as cold as 15 degrees F at Waseca and just 10 degrees F at Ada in the Red River Valley. Daytime temperatures never warmed out of the 20s F at many locations.

October 3-4, 1997 brought one of the hottest ever spells of October weather to Minnesota. Over 25 communities reported daytime highs of 90 degrees F or greater. The other shoe dropped the next week with cool temperatures and many days of consecutive rainfall.

Persistent and heavy rains over October 4-6, 2005 caused serious flash flooding in many parts of eastern Minnesota. Rainfall totals over 4 inches were common, and some areas received from 5 to 7 inches. An observer near Rush City reported nearly 9 inches. Many home basements were flooded, street flooding was widespread, and portions of Interstate 35E had to be closed for a time. Historically, flash floods are very uncommon in October, but this was one of the worst.


Cooler than normal temperatures over the weekend with widespread occasional showers through Sunday. Cool and humid for the start of the Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday morning. Drier on Monday. Warming trend begins on Tuesday with a chance for showers returning by late next week.
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